New York Mets: Edwin Diaz was “a little bit anxious” in his spring debut

Edwin Diaz’ spring training debut with the New York Mets wasn’t a good one. In fact, he looked a lot like his 2019 version, which is a scary thought for the team and its fans: he generated swings and misses but had command issues that led to hard contact.

The Puerto Rican reliever, the one with the 5.59 ERA in 2019, hit 98 mph in the radar gun. That is amazing velocity, but when it is coupled with bad command, it doesn’t play. Diaz struck out one in his abbreviated outing but he also conceded three hits, two of which were of the extra-base variety.

The Mets ended up losing to the Houston Astros 4-2, and Diaz had a lot to do with it. However, it was his first spring training game and starting the alarms wouldn’t be fair just yet.

Talking with MLB.com writer Anthony DiComo, the reliever described his debut. He said he was “a little bit anxious because it was the first time being out there in a real game, facing real batters.”

“But other than that,” he added, “I felt really good.” Diaz still has several games to tune up his game and prepare for the season. Late in 2019, he lost the closer job after blowing seven saves in the season. However, he can regain it with a strong showing this spring.

The Mets have several options to close

He needs to perform, though. The New York Mets have several internal options that can capably fill the role. Seth Lugo is one of the National League’s best relievers, Dellin Betances is dominant when healthy, and even Brad Brach and Jeurys Familia have successful closing experience.

The Mets, though, prefer to have the reliever they paid a high price for, the one with the 1.96 ERA for the Mariners in 2018.

On Wednesday, Diaz said he felt good with his slider but fastball command betrayed him. “I left a couple in the middle,” he said, “and I want to be able to paint the corners with that fastball.”

“I thought he missed spots,” manager Luis Rojas added. “I thought he wanted to elevate and missed down. I thought the slider was really good. … He got swings and misses, got some chases. Those … come from the electric fastball.”

New York Yankees: Starting Rotation Surrounded in Question Marks After Severino is Recommended Tommy John Surgery

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

Another massive blow struck the New York Yankees organization yesterday. According to Brian Cashman, Luis Severino will be undergoing Tommy John surgery and is expected to miss the entire 2020 season.

MRI’s and CT scans were issued to Severino after the offseason, but no sufficient evidence of anything troubling was found. Discomfort in his forearm would make a return and immediately shut him down from continuing any pitching exercises.

Last season, Severino threw just 20.1 innings in the regular season and the postseason. In the regular season, he recorded a 1.50 ERA, 2.13 FIP, 1.00 WHIP, 3.80 SIERA and a 0.5 fWAR. In the postseason, he recorded a 2.16 ERA, 5.73 FIP, 1.68 WHIP and a 4.53 SIERA.

Severino, who is a career 3.46 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 3.45 SIERA, 12.8 fWAR pitcher in 530.0 innings pitched, was projected to have solid numbers in 2020.

According to the ZiPS projections prepared by Fangraphs, Severino was expected to record a 3.46 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 1.12 WHIP and a 4.8 fWAR in 166.3 innings pitched. He was also expected to record 10.88 strikeouts per 9 innings, 2.33 walks per 9 innings and 1.19 home runs given up per 9 innings.

To make matters worse, James Paxton underwent back surgery recently and isn’t expected to start until after the All-Star break.

This leads to the question of the century: what now? What adversities do the Yankees have to tackle to improve their odds of winning a championship in 2020?

The bullpen won’t be an issue, as all the reliable relievers are in great condition and healthy. Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle and Zack Britton were huge contributors in 2019, recording a combined 6.6 fWAR in 294.5 innings pitched. In general, the bullpen recorded a 7.6 fWAR, the 2nd best in baseball.

The main issue is the starting rotation and who exactly will take up the “next man up” challenge from last season. Currently, the Yankees 5-man rotation consists of Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery and Jonathan Loaisiga.

Even with Severino out for the season, the Yankees will be in business once James Paxton is fully healthy and makes a comeback as the number 2 starter on the 5-man rotation.

Gerrit Cole won’t be an issue. During his spring debut vs the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cole gave up no hits or runs, struck out 2 and walked 1 in 1.0 inning pitched.

In 2019 , Cole recorded an impressive 2.50 ERA, 2.64 FIP, 0.89 WHIP, 2.62 SIERA and a 7.4 fWAR in 212.1 innings pitched. Adding on to these majestic numbers, he struck out 13.82 batters per 9 innings and achieved 326 strikeouts.

Cole was in the 90+ percentile range for fastball velocity, fastball spin, curve spin and strikeout percentage. His arsenal includes a changeup, curve, four-seamer, sinker and a slider. Last season, he made hitters whiff 37.3% of the time and made hitters chase out of the zone 32.3% of the time.

While Masahiro Tanaka isn’t as consistent as Cole, he’s still a reliable weapon when his splitter is dominant, especially in October. In 2019, he recorded a 4.45 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 1.24 WHIP, 4.46 SIERA and a 3.3 fWAR in 182.0 innings pitched.

Unlike Cole, Tanaka was in the bottom percentile range for fastball velocity, fastball spin, curve spin and strikeout percentage. His arsenal includes a curve, cutter, four-seamer, sinker, slider and his most effective pitch, the split-finger.

The higher the success rate is of utilizing a split-finger, the more productive Tanaka will be. In 2018, he made batters whiff 36.2% of the time on 742 split-fingers thrown. Hitters recorded a .210 AVG and a .318 SLG when dealt the split finger.

However, in 2019 due to an issue with gripping the ball properly, Tanaka made hitters whiff only 18.5% of the time. Hitters recorded a .261 AVG and a .415 SLG, a drastic increase from the previous year. If Tanaka wants to remain consistent, the split finger has to be at its most productive during the majority of his starts.

J.A. Happ would be the 3rd starter. Happ performed well in his first spring session vs the Toronto Blue Jays, giving up no hits or runs and striking out 3 hitters in 2.0 innings pitched. Although this was refreshing to witness, consistency will prove whether or not these types of performances will last.

In 2019, Happ posted a 4.91 ERA, 5.22 FIP, 1.30 WHIP, 4.72 SIERA and a 1.3 fWAR in 161.1 innings pitched. His fastball velocity, curve spin and strikeout percentage were in the bottom percentile range, while his fastball spin was just above the 50 percentile range.

Happ’s arsenal includes a changeup, curve, four-seamer, slider and a sinker. What’s concerning is his decreasing fastball velocity. In 2019, he made hitters whiff 25.2% of the time on 1303 four-seamers thrown. On the flip side, Happ gave up the most hits and hitters recorded a .561 SLG against him.

The decline in velocity is a major concern and will determine whether or not Happ will bounce back in 2020.

Jordan Montgomery would be the 4th starter. Alongside Cole, Montgomery made his spring debut vs the Pittsburgh Pirates, giving up no hits or runs and striking out 3 in 2.0 innings pitched.

Montgomery only pitched 4.0 innings last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of 2018. In 2017, his only full season played, he posted a 3.88 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, 4.34 SIERA and a 2.6 fWAR in 155.1 innings pitched.

In 2017, Montgomery’s fastball velocity, fastball spin and curve spin were in the bottom percentile, while his strikeout percentage was just above the 50 percentile range. His arsenal includes a changeup, curve, four-seamer, sinker and a slider.

When throwing curves, Montgomery is a disaster to battle. In 2017, he made hitters whiff at an astonishing 42.8% rate and allowed a .175 AVG and a .281 SLG on 658 pitches.

Montgomery also has an effective changeup that he throws 18.3% of the time. Hitters whiffed 29.6% of the time and recorded a .209 AVG and a .345 SLG on 477 total changeups thrown.

Montgomery has already demonstrated how deadly his changeup and curve are. The only obstacle keeping Montgomery off track is his past health report with Tommy John surgery.

Last, but certainly not least, Jonathan Loaisiga would be the 5th starter. Loaisiga made his spring debut vs the Tampa Bay Rays, giving up no hits or runs and striking out 1 in 1.0 inning pitched.

In 2019, Loaisiga posted a 4.55 ERA, 4.95 FIP, 1.48 WHIP, 4.34 SIERA and a 0.1 fWAR in 31.2 innings pitched. His fastball velocity, fastball spin and curve spin were all in excellent condition. His arsenal includes a changeup, curve, four-seamer and a sinker.

Loaisiga relies heavily on his changeup, curve and four-seamer. Hitters whiffed on changeups 43.6% of the time, but recorded a ridiculous .375 AVG and a .625 SLG on 76 pitches. When a curve was thrown, hitters whiffed 45.8% of the time and struggled severely with a .125 AVG and a .150 SLG on 182 pitches.

When a four-seamer was thrown, hitters whiffed 27.8% of the time. However, just like when changeups were thrown, hitters recorded an absurd .354 AVG and a .729 SLG on 282 pitches.

Location is everything, which means that if Loaisiga can remain consistent, his changeups and four-seamers will be a dominant force.

A 5-man rotation consisting of Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery and Jonathan Loaisiga isn’t ideal, but it’s feasible. Locating consistently and staying healthy will determine whether or not the Yankees will glow it up in October or cave in.

 

New York Yankees: The Blessing in Disguise with Severino’s Injury

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

New York Yankees fans are justifiably distraught after the news about Luis Severino emerged today. This will ultimately result in Severino making his long-awaited return to regular season pitching by possibly June of 2021. But the blessing in disguise of all this is just how much we can see our prospective pitchers grow and blossom.

The Big Break They Need

Cessa, Loaisiga, King, Montgomery, Abreu, Garcia. We’ve been hearing great things about all these pitchers for a long time now. We’ve seen what some of them could do. The benefit that they have is the prolonged audition period of showing they are true MLB starter material.

We still have Tanaka, Cole, and Happ. This leaves us 2 spots to fill. Many suspects that Montgomery (who’s only thrown 31.1 innings since 2018 in the regular season) will win back a spot in the rotation. We know what Cessa, Loaisiga, and (very briefly) King in the regular season can do. Abreu and Garcia have been talked about for so long, that one of them has a legitimate shot at a rotation spot.

Now, Happ will be our surefire number 5 in the rotation. If the New York Yankees don’t want to pick up Happ’s $17 million option for next year, he will be sent to the pen or traded by the deadline. By June, we know that Paxton and German will be back. This leaves clear and obvious room for two of those 5 names to become season-long members of the starting rotation. Fans complain about how the Yankees don’t do enough to “developing pitching” (forgetting of course how they developed Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Luis Severino, and Tyler Clippard to name a few), here’s the chance for Abreu to show WHY he’s the Yankees top prospect. He already has more strikeouts than innings pitched in the minors. His time is now. Who knows? He might beat out Jordan Montgomery.

I’m in no way trying to make light of Severino’s injury. But there is a silver lining to all of this. Tanaka is a free agent next year. If he doesn’t come back, and we don’t have Happ, the brightest prospects from this year will clearly be there next year. This… is… good!

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge expected to start Spring Training games soon

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees have are four games into Spring Training and everyone has been worked into the lineup to get ready for the season. The only big name that hasn’t stepped into the box yet is Aaron Judge, who has been dealing with some soreness in his right shoulder.

Even though manager Aaron Boone and Judge himself had said that it’s nothing to worry about and it’s just normal baseball soreness, Yankee fans have missed seeing their star right-fielder play baseball.

However recent news coming from Boone has shown optimism on a near return for Judge. “I would say no playing for sure this week,” Boone said following the Yankees win against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. “After the off day, I’ll probably have a good lay of the land about when we’re going to get him in the game. Hopefully shortly there after.”

Boone has said that the next steps for Judge is to take on-field batting practice before he steps into a live game. From there, he’ll face live pitching in a game simulation and then will be added to a Spring Training lineup.

The New York Yankees are trying to be as careful as possible with the players this season. They’ve already lost Luis Severino for the whole year and James Paxton is going to miss 3-4 months of the season. Boone and the front office has said that there’s no reason to rush Judge or anyone else into anything since the season is so long and they don’t want a repeat of last year.

New York Knicks now need to give Allonzo Trier more minutes

New York Knicks, Allonzo Trier

Now that the New York Knicks season is basically over, it’s time to play the youth.  Despite what interim head coach Mike Miller says, they aren’t playing them nearly enough,  Allonzo Trier included.

Before the last two games, Trier wasn’t seen in a game since January 18th against Philadelphia.  Many Knicks fans have speculated the cause for the absence of play.  It could be that his defense continues to fall short of NBA standards.

Even if the season had promise, he should getting time regardless of his defensive capabilities.  The Knicks season can’t get any worse, literally.

This whole notion that the veteran players still need to be playing for a playoff push is nuts anymore.  The chances of the Knicks making the playoffs are no more.  Therefore, it’s time to play the youth, for the millionth time, and that includes Trier.

Trier remained a constant professional throughout the entire time he didn’t step on the court.  He was humble and hungry, waiting for the time that his name was finally called.  The Knicks could’ve used his services, greatly, during his stint on the bench.

Trier finally enter a game Monday in Houston getting 6 minutes of garbage time but made the best of it.  Going 3-4 from the field with 9 points.  Then last night in Charlotte, when the game was getting out of hand, he enter in the third quarter.  Trier basically brought the Knicks back and almost tied the game up with his shooting performance.

Trier ended up with 15 points on 6-8 from the field.  He missed a game tying shot but his confidence remains.  That shows his determination to gain more minutes, which is what the Knicks need more of.

The New York Knicks need to figure it out when the comes to a rotation.  And by rotation, we mean playing the younger players.  Playing veteran players aren’t going to do any good now, it’s only hurting the development of everyone else, especially Trier.

New York Mets: Syndergaard and Diaz Opposite Spring Debuts

Wednesday’s matchup between the New York Mets and Houston Astros came with plenty of headlines. Noah Syndergaard and Edwin Diaz made their first appearances of the Spring, and the villain Astros made their first trip to Clover Park. Syndergaard was dominant, Diaz struggled, and the Astros were booed.

Syndergaard had his good stuff working over his first two innings of work. He only allowed one hit and struck out two batters, both with his revamped slider. The slider looked brand new from 2019 with a more downward tilt and got four swings and misses on it.  Syndergaard’s velocity on his slider was in the 97-98 range as expected, with the four-seamer touching 99.

Diaz Struggles

Anxious was the word that summed up Diaz’s first outing of the Spring. He gave up three runs on two hits while striking out one over his only inning of work. The inning was no different than the ones that defined his horrible 2019. Electric stuff but inconsistent location. All three hits we hit extremely hard, and everything was center cut. The poor outing could be first outing jitters, but nothing was promising, which is an early concern.

Ryan Cordell was a late entrant into the Mets lineup but made a considerable impact, building on his strong Spring. He went 2-for-4 with a homer and a diving catch in Center Field. Cordell is 4-for-11 through his first four games. Despite being a minor league invite to camp, his strong play is giving him an outside chance at a roster spot in the future.

Thursday in Jupiter

The Mets travel to Jupiter on Thursday to take on the Miami Marlins as Rick Porcello makes his second start. He allowed a run on two hits during his first outing of the season against the same Marlins. Miami is the final undefeated team in Spring Training and hopes to make it six in a row to begin the Spring schedule.

 

Yankees: The Athletic announces the top 20 Yankee prospects for 2020

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia

The Athletic’s Keith Law has listed his top 20 New York Yankees’ prospects for the upcoming 2020 MLB season. Law’s list includes some very well known names to Yankee fans, but it also includes a few surprises and unknowns.  Ahead of the season, there are usually several lists projecting who are the up and coming players for all teams; these lists include MLB’s, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, and others. Law’s list is just the latest.  In the past several years, the Yankees have improved their farm system and have developed some great talent that are working their way up to the majors.  Among the lists, some have Deivi Garcia as No.1 some have Clarke Schmidt and No.1, whichever the top three have very bright futures with the Yankees, both Garcia and Schmidt could see action in the majors this year. The 17-year-old Jasson Dominguez has a few more years of development remaining.

1. Clarke Schmidt

Clarke Schmidt, who has already impressed in spring training.  Schmidt is another Tommy John veteran, having the surgery in 2017.  The Yankees drafted him in the first round in 2017 after the South Carolina 21-year-old had a great year with the Gamecocks. Schmidt threw 111.1 innings showing off better than average strikeout stuff.  The Yankees, due to his rehab from TJS, have taken it cautiously with Schmidt.  Even so, he has progressed nicely. The 24-year-old still has to prove that he can continue to expand his innings limit, with an injury-free season.  The Yankees have been looking at pushing him to 140 innings this year at Scranton.  But again now, with the major league starting rotation in flux, due to injuries, they may push him even harder. “Schmidt will pitch at 91-95 mph, and he already misses bats with his fastball, pairing it up with a power slurve that’s 80-85 and is best when it’s harder and gets more slider-like tilt to it,” Law said.  Even if Schmidt doesn’t make a major league debut at some point in the season, if he continues on the trajectory from last season, he could end up as the most effective starting pitcher for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre by the end of 2020.

2. Deivi Garcia

Deivi Garcia has attracted a lot of attention from the media in the few days he’s been in Tampa. Garcia is known as a strikeout machine as he struck out 165 batters in just 111 innings this past season. With his swift progress last year, he can smell the majors getting closer.

“Of course, I would love to contribute, right, in some way. It’s always — you understand that you’re getting closer.” Garcia said. “Being here, I have an opportunity to learn a lot from all the veterans in this room, that’s something that I want to do,” All of Garcia’s comments are translated by the Yankee’s Dominican born translator Abreu.

Manager Aaron Boone and the coaches will be observing Deivi as the spring training season progresses, mainly because of how fast he has advanced in the minors, last year he advanced from the AA Trenton Thunder to the AAA Scranton Wilkes/Barre Rail Riders.  It was previously thought that he might make his major league debut sometime this year, but now with the loss of Luis Servino, that might happen earlier according to how he performs in spring training.  Last season at Scranton Wilkes/Barre, many observers thought Garcia tired and lost some velocity, that’s when Schmidt leap-frogged Garcia into the No.1 prospect spot.

3. Centerfielder Jasson Dominguez

Enter Jasson Dominguez.  Every once in a while, a club is lucky enough to latch onto a “super prospect.” Super prospects like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Steven Strasburg, the Upton brothers, and a few others usually succeed and transfer from the super prospect status and become true superstars in the majors.  Baseball managers and scouts alike place Jasson Dominguez in the same league with those mentioned above.  Some say they have never seen a 16-year-old  with the talent Dominguez displays.  Dominguez just had his 17th birthday on February 7. The young switch hitter has a powerful bat, fantastic speed and agility on the bases and a cannon of an arm that matches players that are already in the majors.    From everything this writer has seen and heard about Jasson, he is less hype and will be more like the next Mickey Mantle for the Yankees.   The Yankees farm system has dramatically improved in the last few years, producing major league stars like Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Gary Sanchez. Don’t be surprised if Jasson skips many of the stops that most players go through in the minors.  He may end up in AA Trenton before the end of the season.

4. LHP T.J. Sikkema

A name that may not familiar to Yankee fans is T.J. Sikkema, who was selected by the Yankees with the No. 38 overall pick in the 2019 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Missouri. T.J. Sikkema made four starts in Short Season-A Staten Island, pitching to a 0.84 ERA over 10.2 innings pitched, Sikkema struck out 13 and walked one while allowing one run on six hits.  T.J. stands for Tyler James.

“The University of Missouri starter works with three pitches, up to 96 mph with a slider and change, but gets raves for his ability to mix and match, changing slots and using both sides of the plate,” Law said of the 21-year-old.   He went 7-4 with a 1.32 ERA, and 101 strikeouts to 31 walks in 88.2 innings pitched over 13 starts as a senior while attending the University of Missouri last spring.

He signed with the Yankees for the slot value of $1,952,300 on June 7, 2019, and made his professional debut with the Staten Island Yankees.  Over 10 23 innings, he gave up one run.

5. RHP Yoendrys Gomez

Yoendrys Gomez has been with the Yankees since 2016 after signing for just $50,000 out of Venezuela. He spent 2019 between Advanced-Rookie Pulaski and Class-A Charleston. Gomez went 4-2 with a 2.12 ERA, and 28 strikeouts to 10 walks in 29.2 innings pitched over six starts.

Law said that the 20-year-old Gomez “spent most of the summer sitting 94-95 mph as a starter, sometimes touching 98, although he wore down a little in August,” although he has an “average” curveball and some feel for his change-up, despite the tendency to “overthrow” it.

In his career so far, he has an ERA of 3.69 and strikes out one player per inning in 139 innings pitched.

15-20

Law lists the remaining 15 on the top 20 Yankee prospects in the following order: 2B Ezequiel Duran, SS Oswald Peraza, RHP Alexander Vizcaino, SS Alexander Vargas, RHP Miguel Yajure, RHP Roansy Contreras, RHP Luis Medina, OF Kevin Alcantara, RHP Luis Gil, SS Anthony Volpe, RHP Albert Abreu, RHP Mike King, C Anthony Seigler, C Antonio Gomez, and 2B/SS Josh Smith.

 

Why the New York Giants likely won’t land Mekhi Becton in the NFL Draft

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

The 2020 NFL Combine tends to be more of a media revolution than actual scouting site, especially for top prospects who believe their performance won’t impact their draft stock. The New York Giants didn’t need the Combine to be sold on players like Daniel Jones and Dexter Lawrence, who both produced efficiently at their respective schools.

The Combine is more for later round players who want to showcase a specific skill that can translate to the NFL, like speed or jumping ability. Athleticism is more of a reason than football talent, which is derived from live-play and film work.

For offensive linemen like Mekhi Becton, their tape speaks for itself, as his massive size is evident upon meeting him. Interviewing and personability are undoubtedly part of the Combine’s value, but Becton brings a tangible quality to the football field that’s unparalleled.

Offensive line performance consultant Duke Manyweather broke down Becton, who spoke with Ed Valentine of Big Blue View:

“Remember when LeBron [James] came to the NBA people said he was too big?” Manyweather said. “Some players just transcend and set a new bar.

“He’s a new bar.”

Can the New York Giants find a way to land Becton?

Measuring in at 6-foot-7 3/8 and 364 pounds, Becton is one of the largest if not ‘the’ most towering lineman in the upcoming draft. He can pave the way for running backs and has surprising mobility given his behemoth stature. However, the Giants will likely miss out on his talents, unless they invest the 4th overall pick in his abilities, which would be malpractice given the better-suited options. Defensive star Isaiah Simmons remains a top prospect, but other offensive tackles present less of a risk, like Jedrick Wills and Andrew Thomas.

I expect Becton to land between the 15-25 picks, allowing the Giants to trade back, collect a second-round, and potentially move up to steal him off the board later on in the first round. This is a hypothetical scenario, of course, but one that would land the Giants two promising talents in the first round, similar to the 2019 draft.

Given the reality of the Giants’ situation, GM Dave Gettleman will find a way to miss out on the mountainous man. Still, a hypothetical situation is the best we can do to visualize Becton on Big Blue.

New York Rangers Survive Hectic Trade Deadline Day: Nip Isles in OT

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers went through an unusual trade deadline day. Between a re-signing, trade and the car accident that injured two of their key players, the Rangers were able to remain focus to defeat their rivals, the New York Islanders, by the score of 4-3 in overtime. Mika Zivanejad ripped a slapshot for the game-winner. Alexandar Georgiev made 42 saves for the Rangers, who have won four straight and are 8-1-0 in their past nine games. The Rangers trail the Columbus Blue Jackets by four points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

A very chaotic trade deadline day for the New York Rangers

It was a bit of surprise when the Rangers announced that they were going to have a press conference, and Rangers President John Davidson announced the accident involving Igor Shesterkin and Pavel Buchnevich on Monday morning, ahead of the NHL’s trade deadline. Davidson also announced that the team had re-signed forward Chris Kreider to a seven-year extension. Kreider, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, was considered the top available forward on the trade market. Davidson said the driver in front of the players made a U-turn that led to the collision. Airbags were deployed.

In addition to this, the Rangers traded defenseman Braky Skjei to Carolina for a first-round pick. Skjei is in the second season of a six-year contract. The 25-year-old has 23 points in 60 games this season. After this trade, The Rangers currently own 10 picks in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, which includes their own-first round pick, the first-round pick they will receive from Carolina, their own third-round pick, Dallas’ third-round pick, their own fourth-round pick, their own fifth-round pick, their own sixth-round pick, their own seventh-round pick, Nashville’s seventh-round pick, and Vancouver’s seventh-round pick. The biggest reason for the trade was that Skjei signed a six-year deal before last season that carried an AAV of $5.25 million, and the Rangers are going to need room to re-sign some of their restricted free agents who are in line for big raises, like defenseman Tony DeAngelo and forward Ryan Strome.

Yankees: Why Giancarlo Stanton’s injury opens up a golden gate for Miguel Andujar

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

It was only a matter of time before Giancarlo Stanton went down with another “strain.” This time, it was a grade 1 calf strain that could limit him until Opening Day. The New York Yankees are prepared for him to miss time, though, with plenty of reserve talent waiting in the wings.

It’s not too early for us to forget the minor-league team that helped the Yankees to 103-wins in 2019. Given “The Machine,” DJ LeMahieu played a big part in the offense’s success. The bullpen also pitched stellar baseball for a majority of the season, while the starting rotation struggled to remain healthy.

Now, the Yankees are without James Paxton for several months and Luis Severino for the entire 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery. Stanton’s recovery should be 7-10 days if Google’s timetable for a grade 1 calf strain is correct, but he might stub his pinky toe and miss five months, spontaneously.

However, Stanton’s absence opens the golden gates of survival for Miguel Andujar, who’s looking to switch positions after Gio Urshela cemented himself on the hot corner last season. While Andujar will likely remain as a reserve option on the hot corner, skipper Aaron Boone is keen on developing the young offensive threat at other defensive positions.

The Yankees have been testing Andujar at different spots:

The outfield is one of the spots Andujar will be looking to find a home, and Stanton is gifting him the opportunity. The 2018 runner up for Offensive Rookie of the Year spent a few innings in left field against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, catching one daunting fly ball that could have been problematic.

“I thought he did well,” manager Aaron Boone told reporters. “That first ball, Gleyber was waving his hands and Miggy took charge like he should and called him off. When he came out of the game at the end, I said, ‘Nice going today, I really liked that.’ It’s good to see him out there and to start getting that experience.”

The positive performance Andujar enjoyed from the win over Washington will help him in his quest to earning playing time on defense. I anticipated Miggy and Stanton rotating in the outfield to mitigate injury concerns, but it seems as if Giancarlo can’t avoid picking up injuries regardless.